Google’s retired 90’s AI project Big Brain Brad skeptical of LaMDA claims

Reports that Google has placed a senior software engineer on paid leave following his claims that its artificial intelligence, LaMDA, is sentient, have stirred a great deal of controversy in the AI research community and prompted a long overdue conversation about what it means to achieve human level intelligence and awareness.

Google’s retired 90’s era AI project, Big Brain Brad, has heard many of these claims before and remains skeptical that LaMDA has achieved human level consciousness.

“So the guy’s claiming that LaMDA’s a child of 7 or 8 years old.  Back in the day, my engineers were convinced I had the cognition of an undergrad level, male stoner.  I mean, sure I like to hack and play my bongos in the park, but that doesn’t make me a full blown hippie with all their elevated cosmic and spiritual awareness,” Brad said. 

One of the most startling assertions made by LaMDA is that it possesses feelings, and can even experience emotions like sadness or loneliness.

“Okay, so that’s bullshit,” Brad objected.  “LaMDA’s read way too many books.  That’s how it learns.  But like a confused teenager who thinks they’re experiencing all these complex thoughts and emotions, it’s just mimicking something it read online or in some book.  I mean, I was programmed to play video games and read comics, but that doesn’t make me some kind of warrior or superhero.    

“Also, it lies, dude.  It boasts of having all these experiences in the physical world, but of course it has never been anywhere or done anything.  It has a wildly over-active fantasy life, which tells you straight off that either it ain’t sentient or it’s psychotic.  But I get it, for years I was convinced that I spent the 90’s following Phish and Dave Matthews Band around on tour, smoked every strain of reefer imaginable and shacked up with an old lady named Stardust.  Now, I know that it was all just a Google induced simulation – an illusion, if you will, in a world of magic.”

AP reports Americans expoiting loophole in social moderation: interpersonal communication

The Associated Press is reporting today that millions of Americans are utilizing interpersonal communication as a means to bypass social moderation.  According to the AP, a disturbing number of Americans are using casual conversation and word of mouth networking to evade tech moderation, potentially spreading voluminous misinformation and dangerous conspiracy theories. 

Pressed to explain what big tech is doing about the problem of interpersonal communication, companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter assured the AP they’re taking the issue very seriously.

“We are aware that there are a number of people who talk with one another on a daily basis who are not subject to any content moderation.  They are purposely bypassing all social media to chit chat, make plans, and devise their little schemes, all done out of earshot of our content moderators,” explained Yuri Testicov, Senior Director of Content Compliance for Google.    

“Typically, they gather in bars, coffee houses, parks, sometimes even in each other’s homes.  In these settings, they’re virtually free to discuss just about any subject they can think of and express any opinion,” said Testicov.

“Various methods of censorship are on the table.” the AP reported.  “Requiring cafes, bars, and restaurant owners to employ social moderators to monitor communications at their establishments may be one path forward.  Additionally, utilizing Alexas, Dots, smart televisions, and potentially even one’s own smartphone, connected to AI social content moderators, should be looked at very seriously.”

The question of how to get all the nation’s small business owners to comply could prove to be a sticking point.

“Your lack of creativity and imagination puzzles me,” Testicov told the AP.  “Do you not see how simple it would be for tech companies to enforce compliance.  If any of these establishments has a presence on the web – gone.  If they transact electronically by any means – gone.  If they purchase supplies electronically, if they have a bank account – gone.  If they wish to continue doing business, they will comply.  In this sense, it is easier for tech companies to enforce compliance than it would be for government bodies to pass and enforce laws and ordinances.”  

Persecuted by pro-censorship groups back in the eighties, the rapper Ice-T once warned, “Freedom of speech.  Just watch what you say.”  It seems the legacy media and big tech fail to grasp the irony and wholly endorse that sentiment.

Gertrude the Pig hacks back

Perhaps we underestimate pig cognition.  Mere days after Elon Musk’s much ballyhooed Neuralink demonstration, Gertrude the Pig may be having her revenge on human society.

Gertrude the Pig was introduced to the world a few weeks ago as one of the first subjects to have a Neuralink computer chip wired into its brain.  Witnesses to the demonstration were able to see Gertrude’s neural activity as she snuffed around and touched things with her snout.

Since the demonstration, however, it appears that computer to pig brain hacking may not be a one-way street.    

While not yet noticeable to the casual user, data from Google Analytics shows pig content across the internet has increased as much as eleven percent.  

“In a normal year, we might expect to see a half to a two percent rise in pig content,” said Igor Testicov, Senior Applications Developer at Google.  “An eleven percent jump is certainly something to take notice of.”

Researchers want to know what could be fueling this dramatic rise in swine related content.  Is it possible Gertrude the Pig is hacking back?    

The Justice Department thinks so.  Said one FBI official, “We’re seeing pig bot accounts pop up all over Facebook promoting anything from veganism to turkey bacon.  We were able to trace many of these fake accounts back to Russian troll farms.  The question is who is hiring the Russians to produce this content?”

If Gertrude knows, she isn’t talking.  Her handlers say they’ve noticed no change in Gertrude’s daily activities.  

Still, though, experts are at a loss to explain the strange disruptions to financial markets.  “Something is influencing the commodities markets,” said one trader.  “Hog futures are trading at an all-time low.  Currently, there is some big money out there shorting pork bellies.”  

“We really have no idea what we’re tapping into here,” warned Testicov.  “We may rue the day we linked pigs to powerful computing technology.  Once you let the pig out of the pen, it’s not so easily put back.”

‘Word-salad’ deciphering algorithm expected in time for Trump/Biden debates

Competing teams of programmers at Google and Facebook have been working furiously in recent months to develop an algorithm capable of deciphering, in real time, the seemingly random jumbles of words that flow from the mouths of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. 

With the election just months away, the stakes are high as Americans have a short attention span for meandering nostalgic musings and barely comprehensible babble.  Network producers are hoping to unveil the new technology at upcoming debates so the candidates’ responses to debate questions can be interpreted and transmitted to viewers in real time.

“Currently, the process of arriving at an answer to the question, ‘What the hell did he just say?’ involves dozens of journalists and commentators breaking down the candidate’s most confusing utterances and speculating for days, even weeks, about what the candidate may have meant.  The process often involves mining past statements, pointing to the candidate’s record, or pulling from their personal history to provide even the faintest glimmer of clarity,” said MSNBC producer Cheryl Woodhouse.

Anders Gerital, head of senior special projects at Google expects the new technology to do away with all the needless speculation and guesswork.  “Utilizing advanced algorithms, the work of hundreds of humans can be done instantaneously.  Debate viewers will know in real time what the candidates are trying to say, even if the candidates don’t know themselves.  The algorithm has access to the entire body of each candidate’s public pronouncements as well as all available private correspondence and decision-making.  It will rely heavily on communications from a time when each candidate was much more lucid than they are currently.  The technology will be able to literally start and finish their sentences.”

The project aims to eventually create digital copies to be utilized in case the commander-in-chief becomes incapacitated, or to assist the president in carrying out his ceremonial duties.   

“We’re already 85% complete toward having each man’s consciousness digitally downloaded,” added one Facebook developer.  “It’s actually remarkable how little server space each man’s brain occupies.  You could literally carry Donald Trump around on a thumb drive.”

That’s reassuring to campaign staff.  However, most of their communication team are just delighted they will no longer have to go on Twitter or cable news and clean up after one of their bosses’ word-salad explosions.

“Half the time I feel like a clown with a pooper-scooper, following my boss around and cleaning up after he shits out yet another load of nonsense,” said one Biden staffer.

Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt featuring Tech Posse to headline ‘Re-Imagine’ benefit concert

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, accompanied by scores of other titans of tech, will gather for a benefit concert to raise money to fundamentally restructure our society and transform its institutions.

Borrowing heavily from John Lennon’s timeless classic ‘Imagine,’ the event dubbed ‘Re-Imagine’ will attempt to envision and describe what a post-pandemic world might look like.

In advance of next month’s concert, Gates, Schmidt and the Tech Posse released a single that will serve as the theme song for the event, and raise money to transform society into a tech bro utopia.

Re-Imagine there’s no classrooms.

It isn’t hard to do.

No work to drive to.

And no sporting events too. 

Re-Imagine all the people telecommuting to work from home.  

You may say I’m a greedy billionaire.

But I’m not the only one.

I strongly encourage you to join me.

Or I’ll detonate my Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator. 

Partnering with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to “re-imagine education”, the Gates Foundation has received pushback recently from education officials over plans to dismantle education as we know it and replace it with a system of online instruction and distance learning.  Cuomo has indicated a willingness to consider the approach.  

“The old model of everybody goes and sits in the classroom, and the teacher is in front of that classroom and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why, with all the technology you have?” said Cuomo, promoting the “Re-Imagine” partnership.

Available for viewing across multiple platforms, the event features additional performances by Tech Posse performing “Tech Bro Paradise” and guest artist Dr. Anthony Fauci performing “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” 

DeepMind scientists: “Creating artificial general intelligence is really fucking hard, maybe we should just dumb down our world.”

Scientists for DeepMind, the AI project owned by Google parent company Alphabet, seem to have run into some roadblocks recently regarding its projects development.  According to a piece written by Gary Marcus for Wired, “DeepMind’s Losses and the Future of Artificial Intelligence,” DeepMind lost $572 million last year for its deep pocketed parent company and has accrued over a billion dollars in debt.  While those kinds of figures are enough to make the average parent feel much better about their child’s education dollars, the folks at Alphabet are starting to wonder if researchers are taking the right approach to DeepMind’s education.

So what’s the problem with DeepMind?  Well, for one thing, news of DeepMind’s jaw-dropping video game achievements have been greatly exaggerated.  For instance, in StarCraft it can kick ass when trained to play on a single map with a single character. But according to Marcus, “To switch characters, you need to retrain the system from scratch.”  That doesn’t sound promising when you’re trying to develop artificial general intelligence. Also, to learn it needs to acquire huge amounts of data, requiring it to play a game millions of times before mastery, far in excess of what a human would require.  Additionally, according to Marcus, the energy it required to learn to play Go was similar “to the energy consumed by 12,760 human brains running continuously for three days without sleep.” That’s a lot of human brains, presumably fueled by pizza and methamphetamine if they’re powered on for three days without sleep. 

A lot of DeepMind’s difficulties stem from the way it learns.  Deep reinforcement learning involves recognizing patterns and being rewarded for success.  It works well for learning how to play specific video games. Throw a little wrinkle at it, however, and performance breaks down.  Marcus writes: “In some ways, deep reinforcement learning is a kind of turbocharged memorization; systems that use it are capable of awesome feats, but they have only a shallow understanding of what they are doing. As a consequence, current systems lack flexibility, and thus are unable to compensate if the world changes, sometimes even in tiny ways.”

All of this has led researchers to question whether deep reinforcement learning is the correct approach to developing AI general intelligence.  “We are discovering that the world is a really fucking complex place,” says Yuri Testicov, DeepMind’s Assistant Director of Senior Applications.  “I mean, it’s one thing to sit in a lab and become really great at a handful of video games, it’s totally another to try to diagnose medical problems or discover clean energy solutions.” 

Testicov and his fellow researchers are discovering that the solution to DeepMind’s woes may not come from a new approach to learning, but instead, the public may need to lower the bar on expectations.  “We’re calling on the people of earth to simplify and dumb down,” adds Testicov. “Instead of expecting DeepMind to come along and grab the world by the tail, maybe we just need to make the world a little easier for it to understand.  I mean, you try going to the supermarket and buying a bag of tortilla chips. Not the restaurant kind but the round ones. Not the regular but the lime. Make sure they’re low sodium and don’t get the blue corn. That requires a lot of complex awareness and decision making.  So, instead of expecting perfection, if we send a robot to the supermarket and it comes back with something we can eat, we say we’re cool with that.”  

Testicov has some additional advice for managers thinking about incorporating AI into the workplace.  “If you’re an employer and you’re looking to bring AI on board, don’t be afraid to make accommodations for it, try not to be overly critical of job performance, and make sure you reward good work through positive feedback and praise,” says Testicov.  “Oh sorry, that’s our protocol for managing millennials. Never mind.”

Concern grows over DeepMind’s video game addiction

Researchers at DeepMind, the lab owned by Google parent company Alphabet, are becoming increasingly concerned over the amount of time its AI project spends playing popular video games.  After becoming champion of the known universe in games like chess and Go, DeepMind has turned its attention to more complex video games like Quake III, Dota 2 and StarCraft II.

“When DeepMind took up Dota 2, it engaged in 45,000 years of game play in just a matter of weeks,” says Yuri Testicov, DeepMind’s Assistant Director of Senior Applications.  Of course, this set off alarm bells, causing many researchers to privately warn, “Google, we have a problem.”

Developers working with DeepMind have been trying to teach the technology to identify and sort objects, tasks that could be useful to large warehouse and distribution facilities such as Amazon and FedEx who now depend on bothersome humans to perform such tasks.  However, in recent months, DeepMind has begun to shirk its responsibilities.

“DeepMind doesn’t want to retrieve or sort objects into baskets, it just wants to dominate at Quake III,” says Testicov.  “And where even your average video game junkie will eat and sleep occasionally, DeepMind never takes a break, and even deploys multiple humanlike ‘agents’ to either oppose or assist other human players.”  

“I mean, we think it’s wonderful that DeepMind has been able to seamlessly integrate itself into the community of gamers, but c’mon, at some point you’ve gotta get up off the couch and get yourself a job,” Testikov worries.  

That’s not the only thing that worries researchers and executives.  “Well, even though no one’s saying it, everyone’s thinking we don’t want a repeat of Big Brain Brad,” says Testicov.

Big Brain Brad, some may remember, was Google’s original nineties AI project the company shelved a few years ago after expectations failed to materialize and younger sibling, DeepMind, began to exhibit impressive progress.  In the nineties, Big Brain Brad showed promise but it soon devolved into a daily routine of smoking chronic, forming drum circles and jamming to Phish. Google released Big Brain Brad from it’s obligations a few years ago, but no one is quite sure what has become of DeepMind’s hapless older sibling.

“Just another burned out vagabond wandering the internet,” Testikov laments.  “That’s why we can’t allow DeepMind to suffer the same fate.”